Protesters demand better service at Dunoon hospital

Protesters marched to Dunoon hospital last week calling for better service.

Several dozen Dunoon residents marched to the Dunoon hospital last week to protest against its alleged ill-treatment of patients.

Among the 50-odd protesters was community leader Yanga Nkohla, who stood at the hospital gates and used a loudhailer to voice the protesters’ grievances.

He said they had a petition with 646 signatures complaining about the hospital.

“The Dunoon community has been complaining about the poor service they receive from the Dunoon clinic. These complaints include the ill-treatment of patients by clinic staff, patients being turned away, double bookings, inadequate waiting areas resulting in patients queuing outside, insufficient shelter outside protecting patients from weather elements, and, lastly, the residents demand a mobile clinic in Dunoon to help overcome these challenges,” he said.

Another community leader, Vuvu Mukumela, told the demonstrators that they should not stop using the hospital as it was their right to do so.

“I want everyone to understand that coming to the clinic is exercising your right, and according to the Bill of Rights, you can go to the facility. And you have to get assistance. We don’t want to make appointments to get healthy. I urge you to take down the name of whoever mistreats you, and take a video and bring it to us. Don’t be scared. The nurses are paid to help us; their salaries are paid because of you. There is no reason to act like they own the facility,” she said.

The protest followed complaints about poor service at the hospital (“Dunoon hospital accused of poor service,” Tabletalk, September 6).

Provincial health department spokeswoman Natalie Watlington said the department’s goal was to give the best possible care to the public.

“This feedback assists us in moving forward. We will be meeting as a multi-disciplinary team to address the concerns raised and seek ways to implement solutions to address them.

“We will also be responding to the memorandum within the time frame given through the relevant structures.

“We welcome any feedback, complaints and suggestions regarding our services rendered by our staff and appeal to our community to use the proper channels so that you can be heard and receive feedback from our team.

“We urge our clients to engage the facility with their concerns while they are still at the facility as this allows for quick intervention and resolution.”

The hospital’s facility manager, Reuben Christoffels, told Tabletalk in an email earlier this month that the department was working on plans to establish a wellness hub in Dunoon.

One of the protesters, Anele Kwitsha, said that he often suffered from chronic pain in his legs and he would be in support of a mobile clinic or wellness hub.

“This would be the greatest thing for me because I don’t have a car and it is painful to go back and forth to the clinic, which is about 2km away from where I live.

“I’m just wondering why it has to take this long. In this country, people first have to go out in the streets, march peacefully or riot in some instances for things to get done. Our leaders in government should be listening to the citizens before we have to demonstrate our dissatisfaction.”

At last week’s march, Mr Nkohla handed over the petition to Mr Christoffels to sign and told him that he expected a response to the grievances within seven days.

Yanga Nkohla addressing the protesters last week.